03 September 2019 :
The Mississippi Supreme Court threw out the murder conviction of Curtis Flowers. Mr. Flowers, a black man, has been tried by a white prosecutor 6 times over the killings of 4 people in a furniture store in 1996. Mr. Flowers, 49, has been accused of murder in the 1996 killings of 4 people in a furniture store in Winona, Miss. All six prosecutions have either ended in mistrial or convictions that were reversed on appeal. The case sparked a national conversation about race in the criminal justice system after a podcast investigated the decades-long effort by the prosecutor, Doug Evans, to convict Mr. Flowers. Thursday’s move by the Mississippi Supreme Court was expected after the United States Supreme Court said in June that Mr. Evans had violated the Constitution in Mr. Flowers’s 6th trial by striking black jurors. In the six trials for Mr. Flowers, 61 of the 72 jurors were white. The case will now be sent back to a lower court, and prosecutors will have to decide if they want to try Mr. Flowers for a 7th time. The United States Supreme Court noted on June 21 (see) that Mr. Flowers’s first 2 convictions were reversed based on prosecutorial misconduct. His 3rd conviction was reversed after the Mississippi Supreme Court said Mr. Evans had discriminated against black jurors during jury selection. The 4th trial ended in a mistrial. In the 4 trials, held between 1997 and 2007, Mr. Evans used all 36 of his peremptory challenges to strike black potential jurors. “The state’s actions in the first 4 trials necessarily inform our assessment of the state’s intent going into Flowers’s 6th trial,” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in the majority opinion. “We cannot ignore that history.” The 5th trial also ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury. The jury at the 6th trial, made up of 1 black and 11 white jurors, convicted Mr. Flowers in 2010 and sentenced him to death. The Mississippi Supreme Court had affirmed the conviction and sentence.